A 105-Year-Old Woman on a Baseball Field and Other Things That Might Surprise You

This week marked the opening of the Major League Baseball season. Easily the best baseball story of the week comes from Texas where 105-year-old Elizabeth Sullivan got up from her wheel chair to throw out the first pitch at a Texas Rangers game. As you might expect, the crowd went wild.

Obviously, Elizabeth Sullivan has spunk. Afterwards, she described the experience to reporters, “When I got my degree, that was fun — with the hat on. And getting married was fun. But this was great too.”

Her secret to longevity? Her doctors tell her she has no need for medications. However, she does drink three Dr. Peppers a day. Since I’m a big fan of Dr. Pepper, baseball, and people who can throw one at 105-years-old, I loved this story (you can see the full story here).

We as humans love stuff that surprises us. We are drawn to the unexpected. We love it when the most unlikely looking person comes out on stage and emerges with a shockingly beautiful voice. Surprise not only inspires us but it is a key element in humor. It’s what makes things funny. Garrison Keillor said “Humor has to surprise us; otherwise, it isn’t funny.”

Surprise is what makes this particular story so great. We don’t expect a 105-year-old to get up out of a wheel chair and chuck a baseball. In addition to surprise inspiring us and making us laugh, I think it is also one of the most attractive things about the Gospel and one of the most amazing things about grace.  For example:

  • If you show up to an event outside of town with 5000 friends and forget to pack a lunch, you don’t expect to be able to eat . . .until Jesus surprises you.
  • If you’ve had five husbands and show up at the well, you don’t expect a religious teacher to pay attention to you . . .until one does.
  • If you’ve been out fishing all night and don’t catch anything, you don’t expect to go home with any fish . . .until some guy comes along, tells you to try one more time and you end up with more fish than you know what to do with (not to mention some nets to mend).

Jesus is in the surprise business. A tax collector wouldn’t have expected to be invited to follow him. An adulteress on the verge of being stoned wouldn’t have expected to have been defended by Him. A thief about to die wouldn’t have expected to be forgiven by Him.

You’ve been working hard for hurting kids and the families of hurting kids. Things at work or at home might be tough and life might feel very weighty for you this week. You might be worn down, feel far from God and are not expecting much from Him today.

But just wait. He might surprise you.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” – Ephesians 3:20

Not only that, but He might give you the chance to pass on this surprising grace to a hurting and watching world . . .

  • When your child has done something wrong, but you go and get that ice cream anyway
  • When your social worker hasn’t returned your calls yet and you choose to give flowers instead of a piece of your mind (without mentioning that you’ve been calling in the note)
  • When the birth parent of a child in your home hasn’t been consistent but you write them a note of encouragement

We all like to be surprised by goodness. We love it when beautiful things catch us unaware.  And you never look more like Jesus than when you are surprising others with grace.


This post originally appeared in our Foster Roster e-newsletter which is delivered each Friday. We try to keep it short and sweet and fill it with practical articles, videos, blog posts and other tools for leaders like you working to help kids and families in foster care.  To sign up, go to http://bit.ly/1rwn6eO.